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March of the penguin love triangle

July 16, 2009 |  4:27 pm

Penguin They aren't the infamous Tango's dads (we'll get to that later) but the forces opposing same-sex marriage see vindication in nature--or at least in the San Francisco Zoo, where a couple of male penguins who formed a long partnership have split.

Harry and Pepper shared a burrow together for six years, even hatching a surrogate chick, until Linda the widow came along, newly bereaved by her (male) partner Fig's death and Harry decided to, uh, chase some tail. The two burrowed in together and Linda laid two eggs.

A sign that gay couples are doomed, as the Proposition 8 supporters claim? Let's check 3,000 miles acorss the continent where a much more famous pair of male penguins live at the Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo not only hatched an egg together, and raised baby Tango, but they all became characters, alternately celebrated and maligned, in the children's book "And Tango Makes Three." The zoo never got back to me with official word about the ornithological literary figures, but an employee told me informally that the two are still alive and well and together. But their book has been banned in numerous schools.

So this makes what of the whole argument about same-sex marriage for humans? Perhaps only a reminder that penguins do not seem as inclined to judge their peers' preferences as humans are.

Photo of two king penguins who are cute but not Harry, Pepper, Roy or Silo by Martin Meissner/AP 

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